Board of Education Proposes Change to Home Schooling Policy

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Last Updated: February 4, 2015
Board of Education Proposes Change to Home Schooling Policy
Sponsors:
Virgin Islands Board of Education
Summary:

Families can no longer just file a notice to homeschool--they must get prior approval, and the government has "blank check" authority to deny approval. Parents must leave their child in public school for a 30-day "waiting period" before they can homeschool. Parents wishing to homeschool must list all teachers and their qualifications. Homeschool children must take the standardized test that public school children take starting in the 8th grade and meet unspecified graduation requirements.

HSLDA's Position:
Oppose.
Action Requested:
None at this time
Status:

Proposed, pending approval

Background:

BACKGROUND

An analysis of the regulations in all 50 states shows that homeschooled children do just as well academically in states with the lowest level of regulation as they do in the states with the highest level of regulation. The empirical evidence is clear: adding red tape and restrictions simply won’t help children!

There are several sections to the proposed regulations. I will explain the main problems in each section one at a time.

Section entitled: "Procedures for Home School Instruction--Parent and Guardians."

Paragraph 2 requires families to file notice 30 days prior to homeschooling. This 30-day waiting period is oppressive and unjustifiable. Parents would be FORCED TO KEEP THEIR CHILDREN IN PUBLIC SCHOOL FOR 30 DAYS AFTER THEY WANT TO TAKE THEM OUT. This is discriminatory and unacceptable. No one else changing their child's educational setting is required to leave their children in the old setting for 30 days. (The current regulation says "within 10 days.") A 30-day "waiting period" is without precedent in the 50 states.

Paragraph 3.a. requires homeschool families to list all the teachers. This is unjustifiable. As long as the parents list their own name, the board knows who is ultimately responsible. The selection of teachers is the parent's choice, and not subject to review by the board.

Paragraph 3.f. mandates that homeschooled children take the Virgin Islands Summative Assessment and gives the education department power to mandate where the child will take the test. This is unjustifiable. That test is designed to measure how much children have learned using an official Virgin Island curriculum. But homeschool students do not use that curriculum. It is unfair to test children based on a curriculum they did not use! It is unfair to test a child in an unfamiliar location where they may feel uncomfortable. Most states don't require any year-end testing, but of those that do, they always offer several different options and allow parents to choose the location. No state demands that parents use one specific test or mandates where such a test will be taken.

Paragraph 4 demands that parents follow the school system's withdrawal process. This is unjustifiable. The child belongs to the parent, not the school! Once the parent wishes to withdraw the child, it should be accomplished immediately. This is how it works for a student moving to a private school.

Paragraph 6 says "students must meet graduation requirements." This is unjustifiable since homeschool parents do not seek a public school diploma. Such a demand is virtually unheard of in the 50 states. This degree of control, in effect, forces children back into the public school system that their parents wanted them to leave.

Section entitled: "Procedures for Home School Instruction--Department of Education"

Paragraphs 1 and 2 imply that homeschool families need prior approval to homeschool. This is not accurate and not acceptable. Families file a simple notice, and if the notice satisfies the regulations, they are in compliance. It is unacceptable for the department to exercise control in the form of prior approval. Only two of the 50 states require advance approval, and the overwhelming trend is against it. What standards would Virgin Island bureaucrats use in granting approval? No one knows.

Paragraph 3 vaguely requires families to produce "educational records" under some circumstances. What records? This new, vague demand is unacceptable. The current regulations already require the family to produce a portfolio.

Section entitled: "Home School Instruction Policy Form."

Part B demands that homeschool parents list the teacher for every subject, and which days of the week that subject will be taught. This is unjustifiable. The board has no authority over who parents choose to teach their children or on what days. The board is not permitted to judge parental teacher choice. A homeschool is part of a family. This demand treats a family like an institution. None of the 50 states require this.

Part C demands that the parent or other teacher list their qualifications. This is unacceptable. Merely by being a parent, a parent has a right to homeschool his children. The board is not permitted to judge a parental decision to homeschool. The board is ill-qualified to determine who is qualified to teach in the intimate setting of a home or a tutorial situation.

Section entitled: "Confirmation and Signatures"

This section interferes with parental choice by mandating that parents "review business licenses and other practices before accepting terms and conditions" for outside teachers. This may be a good idea, but it is not the government's place to mandate it.

 Other Resources

Full text of proposed regulations, version October 31, 2014 >>

Full text of proposed regulations, version May 20, 2015 >>

Full text of proposed regulations, version October 8, 2015 >>

Full text of proposed regulations, version December 4, 2015 >>

E-lert, February 4, 2015: Urgent: Call Before Friday to Stop Oppressive Homeschool Regulations

E-lert, February 5, 2015: Update on Action Items

E-lert, October 14, 2015: U.S. Virgin Islands-Help Stop Burdensome Proposed Regulations

E-lert, November 9, 2015: St. Thomas: Attend Hearing to Oppose Harmful Regulations